The Instigator
socialpinko
Pro (for)
Winning
4 Points
The Contender
Magicr
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Human nature does not make libertarian socialism impossible to work in practice

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
socialpinko
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/19/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,724 times Debate No: 24350
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (15)
Votes (2)

 

socialpinko

Pro

The scope of this debate will be to discuss whether or not human nature means that a system of libertarian socialism cannot "work" in practice.


===Definitions===


Libertarian socialism will be defined as the following:

Libertarian refers to having no formal government, meaning that the community or society is organized voluntarily and there is no institutional monopoly on the use of force within that society.

Socialism refers to the means of production being owned in common by the members of the community collectively and equally. Production runs with use in mind as opposed to profit. The means of production may be managed in a number of ways with either direct democracy or immediately recallable elected council boards being among the possible options.To work in practice will mean that a relatively adequate standard of living is possible in the long term in a given society.

Human nature will refer to traits inherent to human beings which are (A) existent independent of any societal organization and (B) not possible to change.


===Resolution and BoP===


The burden of proof to defend the resolution will fall primarily on Pro as instigator. Con's burden will be to deconstruct and refute Pro's case or they may provide a positive argument in favor of their position if they choose. The resolution for this debate deals with whether or not there are irreducible conflicts between human nature and libertarian socialism which would make it impossible to "work" in practice. Pro will argue against any such reason to believe there are conflicts like these while Con can either argue that there are.


===Rules===


1. Drops will count as concessions.

2. Semantic or abusive arguments will not be counted.

3. New arguments brought in the last round will not be counted.

4. R1 is for acceptance or, if they choose, my opponent may introduce a preliminary argument here.
Magicr

Con

I accept this debate am interested to hear your argent's. I accept your definition of socialism, however before I accept your definition of libertarianism, I would like you to clarify the difference between what you have proposed and anarchy.
Debate Round No. 1
socialpinko

Pro

The scope of this debate rests on the characteristics of human nature and its relationship to the feasibility of libertarian socialism. I will argue in this debate that human nature exists in a way that favors traits and characteristics like altruism, cooperation, and mutual aid which are prime characteristics which such a society would be built on. Based on this, we will see that human nature has been shaped to select for tenets compatible with and complementary to traits like cooperation, mutual aid, community-mindedness, and altruism. The main source of this contention will lie in the findings of evolutionary theory which are all too commonly associated only with the conception of nature as an eternal struggle of conflicting organisms fighting for survival.


===Introduction===


Any discussion or debate on human nature must of course concern itself with the findings of evolutionary theory. We know this as we have learned that it was primarily through evolutionary processes that humanity developed in the first place. Whatever human nature turns out to be, it is in no small way due to the factors of natural and sexual selection[1]. Those who would deny this claim would either have to base such opposition on the outright denial of evolution in itself or in the conception that some deity guided evolution to favor certain qualities. In the latter case, the claim be burdened with establishing the deities existence which is not what I hope this debate to be about.


===Evolution and Cooperation===


Over the course of the development of humanity, its natural guiding force, evolution, has favored certain traits to come into existence as the way that humanity is inherently made up. This by itself is far from controversial. It's generally recognized that many aspects of our behavior can be explained in some way by evolutionary factors[2][3]. These traits are inherently geared towards a libertarian socialist society as one which is both characterized by cooperation without an overarching single authority and one that is characterized by aid to others over competition. I don't deny that societies employing authority or competition cannot exist, just that evolution has formed human nature to be complementary to cooperation and aid in themselves.


--Mutual Advantageous Behavior (MAB)--


Evolution has experimented with various methods of interacting with others. This doesn't refer to some conscious scientist like in the usual sense of experimenting, but in this context refers to the idea that as humanity developed, evolution responded to various factors in determining the relevant traits which would develop or be discarded. The most common form in which we see this take place is natural selection. One who adapts to external forces best is most likely to live long enough to reproduce and is thus more likely to pass on their genes (and with that in many instances the characteristics which allowed them to survive longer) to the next generation in their given gene pool. So what works best in regards to survival and general security can be inferred to be selected for.


It is my contention that a strong characteristic selected for over the course of humanities evolutionary development is that of performing mutually advantageous behavior. This means that instead of acting in conflict and competition with other members of our species (and in some instances other species as well[4]), we have a strong disposition to act in ways which benefit both parties. Note that this does not necessarily mean that we are geared towards trade of material goods only though. While I admit this is somewhat the case, it just as well applies to the idea that as humans we generally prefer to work together with one another. Exchange of material goods on a market tends to apply only to short term interests and this is just as well of all MAB. My second point however deals with cooperation in the long term and is more applicable to a communitarian conception of society.


--Reciprocal Altruism (RA)--


Another characteristic of humanity which goes farther than MAB in providing reason to support a libertarian socialist society as viable is the idea of reciprocal altruism. Under RA, two or more parties perform MAB but in doing so one party might voluntarily gives up something to help another that is not closely (i.e. of a familial relationship) related. In other words, there is not always benefit to each exchange ex-ante. The trick is that the parties become parties to more than just the initial exchange. In doing so they develop long term relationships which foster these types of behaviors with characteristics like trust and reliability coming to help solidify these types of exchanges. The evolutionary significance of RA is in the idea that evolution can tend to select for those who choose RA[5] as in close-knit communities (i.e. a libertarian socialist one) both parties are more likely to survive cooperating then by both facing future dangers on their own as well as the fact that altruists tend to cooperate more frequently with others who will likely reciprocate[6]. That is, evolution tends to select against defection in the so called altruist prisoner's dilemma.


===
At this point I'll choose to end my case and pass the debate over to my opponent.
===


===Sources===


[1] http://www.evolutionfaq.com...
[2] http://paul.representinggenes.org...
[3] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[4] http://www.dchieftain.com...
[5] http://education.ucsb.edu...
(The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism. Robert L. Trivers. Quarterly Review of Biology Volume 46.)
[6]http://www.wwnorton.com...
Magicr

Con

I have two possibilities here. I can either simply negate my opponents arguments, or I can submit an argument of my own. I shall attempt to do both.

I will begin by pointing out that although my opponent has made several important points regarding human nature and has claimed that several aspects of MAB and RA can make libertarian socialism a good choice, he has not provided any arguments directly connecting the two. I look forward to the connections he can draw between the two in future rounds.

My argument for this round will be focused on human nature as well. I will agree with many of his contentions:

I agree that evolution has led us to be cooperative beings and that in many cases we are inclined by our nature to go for MAB and RA.

I would also like to bring up some aspects of human nature.

C1: There is scarcity in the world

Scarcity, a fundamental principal in economics, occurs any time demand exceeds supply. This happens quite often. In fact, scarcity occurs most, if not all of the time. The fact of the matter is that we have limited resources so supply will almost always exceed demand. Several examples of scarce resources in the world today are food, water, and oil.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

C2: Competition is inherent because of scarcity

Let's take a look at food. There will always be a scarcity of food because there is always a very high demand and a limited supply. This leads to competition for this limited resource. This is why it is part of human nature to compete for limited resources.

http://en.wikipedia.org...(biology)

C3: Human nature is at odds with libertarian socialism because of competition

Virtually all human conflicts are rooted in competition. There is the obvious economic and biological competition for goods and resources. War is often a competition for land and the resources that land contains. Based on his definition of libertarian, I do not think that my opponent is arguing for one large society, but rather letting smaller groups form as they may when a national government is removed. (Please correct me if this is not your intention.) Each of these smaller groups will have these virtuous traits such as MAB and RA inside of them, but there will be competition between the various groups, much as there is competition between nations today. This competition would lead to violence, etc. thus bringing down the system.

I look forward to my opponent's response and encourage him to use specificity to paint a picture of the way such a society would avoid this problem and others.
Debate Round No. 2
socialpinko

Pro

Clarification. Relation of MAB and RA to the resolution.


The point of the contentions of MAB and RA as being large parts of human nature serves two points. (A) It shows the social and economic arrangements in society need not be set up competitively, and (B) it shows that human nature is not antithetical to the concept of the implementation of a society built on the principles of cooperation and mutual aid. Obviously if those characteristics are a large part of human nature then a society built on them can be shown to be conductive to human flourishing.


To make the point more clear, let us look at the principles that go into the concept of a libertarian socialist society. As per the definition I provided in R1, it is characterized by equal ownership and power concerning the means of production, need taken into account in production as opposed to self interested profit, and mutual aid as a primary mechanism for running society obviously. The primary difference between a libertarian socialist society and a liberal capitalist one is the idea that production is guided by the needs of the community specifically, as opposed to being guided by the general self interest of producers. This is where our altruistic impulses ingrained by human nature become important.


A common criticism of the possibility of such a society is that people are by their nature self interested, thus an economy based on need and use could not work as we are naturally egoistic. We naturally want to profit off of others and so a society based on anything else would not be successful for very long. But the principles inherent in human nature such as MAB and RA clearly make this criticism dubious and is the main point my case makes, that society can be run on these natural characteristics in us and that self interest is not imperative in organizing society. Our natural inclination to help those around us is descriptively captured by evolutionary concepts like MAB and RA and are implemented through mechanisms like for-use production and lack of a need for coercive hierarchical authority.


Contention. Existence of Scarcity.


On my opponent's point of scarcity, I accept that it exists certainly. The whole reason why economic planning becomes necessary is because we do not have unlimited resources in the world. Even the mechanism by which we use these limited resources i.e. our bodies is limited. However, as I will show, this point of my opponent's does not favor any specific system of economic organization, just some form of economic organization at all.


Contention. Scarcity and Competition.


While the existence of scarcity in the world is something that cannot be rationally denied, I deny my opponent's assertion that need for allocating scarce resources necessarily entails something in opposition to a socialist organization for society. Consider that different economic arrangements in society are merely different ways of allocating scarce resources. Competition is one way out of many to do this but not the only possible way and considering my evolutionary evidence provided in R2, a socialist organization of the economy would be more conductive to human nature, as is the general focus of the debate at hand. All that the existence of scarce resources proves is that there is a need to rationally allocate things like food and water. It doesn't mean that it must be allocated in a competitive way which is just one manner out of many and my opponent has not shown why competition is more conductive to human nature.


Contention. Competition and Libertarian Socialism.


My opponent begins by the observation that war is generally rooted in competition for scarce resources. He thus argues from this point that in a libertarian socialist world of many smaller communal societies, they would end up simply devolving and competing with each economically or physically as competition for resources is ingrained into human nature. Let me point out that my opponent has failed to provide any scientific or philosophic sources proving his unwarranted assertion that we are doomed to competitive conflict, nor has he attempted to refute my own arguments for why human nature is characterized by the opposite tendencies. My opponent is merely making assertions whereas I in my case have drawn on documented findings into the general characteristics universal to humanity.


Moreover it could be just as easily argued (and would be more substantiated given my actual sourcing of my claims) that the existence of warring for scarce resources was not due to human nature, but is instead due to the social conditioning of a societal system based around economic competition between self interested actors. My opponent has certainly not refuted my reasoning that MAB and RA are rooted in human nature and thus his assertion of competition as seemingly just as just as strong as these tendencies would be contradictory. It is my contention that in a society where economic, personal, and public arrangements are based on real human nature, we would get past the social conditioning of competition and the human nature that I have shown to exist would takeover as primary motivation for the way we behave.
Magicr

Con


I will again divide my arguments between negating my opponent's assertions and proving my own.



First, my opponent claims that he has proved that MAB and RA are large parts of human nature. This is not the case. He has proved that these are desirable traits in evolution. This, however, does not mean that they are definite, large parts of human nature. He has said "I in my case have drawn on documented findings into the general characteristics universal to humanity." In reality, his sources point toward general findings on evolution rather than characteristics universal to human nature. For example, his only source for the existence of MAB is about the fact that relationships between animals and humans are beneficial, not that MAB is an essential part of human nature.



Competition


com·pe·ti·tion 


noun


1.the act of competing; rivalry for supremacy, a prize, etc.


2. a contest for some prize, honor, or advantage:


3.Sociology . rivalry between two or more persons or groups for an object desired in common, usually resulting in a victor and a loser


but not necessarily involving the destruction of the latter.



Competition on the other hand is an essential component of natural selection. It is in the competition for limited resources that allows certain traits to become superior to others.



Let us take a look at something simple, such as the increase in height from the ancient hominids to the humans to today. The reason that we are taller now is that ancient hominids who was slightly taller than others were able to reach food that was higher than other food. This advantage meant that taller hominids were more likely to reproduce and pass on these tall genes than others. If, instead of taking advantage of this height, a taller humanoid had used MAB to share the extra food, then all of the hominids would be equally likely to eat and reproduce in this respect so there would be no advantage in height, and there would be no reason for a growth in height. The competitive nature of the hominids would have made natural selection take place.



Because natural selection requires competition, then it must be part of human nature, or else humans would not likely have evolved.


We have lived in many different societal conditions throughout history. Competition has existed in virtually all of them. This shows that competition is a big part of human nature. Therefore, I encourage my opponent to answer the following question:


What is one major conflict in human history that has not revolved around competition?


Because competition is inherent in human nature, humans will always be competing over limited resources, thus libertarian socialism would not work. I believe I have sufficiently shown why evolution is part of human nature and why my opponent has not fulfilled his BoP in proving that MAB and RA are large parts of human nature.


I look forward to his rebuttal.



Sources:



http://dictionary.reference.com...


http://www.labtimes.org...


http://evolution.berkeley.edu...


http://www.talkorigins.org...


Debate Round No. 3
socialpinko

Pro

Relation of MAB and RA to the resolution.


My opponent brings up a different sort of argument in his last round. He argues now (coming into my last response of the debate) that I have not provided sufficient evidence that MAB and RA are large enough parts of human nature. Aside from his strawmann of my own arguments (claiming I only showed the traits to be desirable), my opponent appears to be missing the point of my argument. Therefore I will reiterate my points for clarity. In my opening on MAB I showed that natural selection as a natural phenomenon generally selects for traits and behavior which "works best in regards to survival and general security". This is clearly a correct observation. We don't see evolution selecting for traits which are specifically unhelpful versus those which are (even when we see traits which are unhelpful, they often persist in spite of not through evolution). My next line of argumentation was to show that evolution has chosen traits like MAB and RA to be beneficial to human survival and society. In fact, I linked to two separate scientific studies showing the evolutionary significance of these behaviors. For the sake of clarity I'll post them again.


http://education.ucsb.edu...
(The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism. Robert L. Trivers. Quarterly Review of Biology Volume 46.)

http://www.wwnorton.com...
(From an online college anthropology textbook)


Contention. Scarcity and Competition.


Before I begin my final refutation, I implore readers to note that my opponent has completely dropped my point about scarcity only in itself implying need for rational allocation and that competition and cooperation are themselves just different forms of this. From this I showed that the existence of scarcity could not be shown to prove either systems as necessarily existent, just that some form of economic system would be necessary in a civilized society. My opponent has not so much as mentioned it and therefore he has dropped it. Note that the rules show drops to be concessions and even if this were not the case, responding to it now would be abusive, seeing as I would not be able to respond.


Contention. Competition and Evolution.


The next point argued in favor of my opponent's case is the notion that competition by itself is what drives evolution and thus, since humans are a by-product of evolution, competition is ingrained into our nature. While it cannot be denied that competition has been a large part of natural selection, this doesn't prove all that my opponent believes it does. For instance, his assertion that "natural selection requires competition" is utterly without substantiation. There are numerous other factors to be accounted for in what drives evolution. My opponent defined competition as actual rivalry between two organisms. Natural selection does not only rely on this though. All it relies on is survival for long enough to reproduce. As I already showed, MAB and RA are beneficial to survival and are thus selected for in evolution. We can see from this alone that competition is not the sole driving force in natural selection in that a specific lack of rivalry has been shown to advance it in many cases.


Contention. Competition and History.


My opponent's next point is that competition has been existent in many societies throughout history, therefore competition is a large aspect of our nature. Con has first not provided any actual evidence for the contention of competition existing in a majority of societies. While we know that competition does exist, we do not have sufficient evidence provided by Con to show that it exists in the majority of societies. Anthropological evidence in fact shows that hunter-gatherer societies (our main evolutionary fore-societies) existed in largely the same basic form of that of libertarian socialism with the stronger members hunting for meat food and the weaker ones gathering and foraging for plant food. The societies were generally non-hierarchical and food was gathered for use by itself.[1][2][3] Many of these societies are still in existence, among them the Bushmen and the Inuits. The fact that they have existed for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years actually by itself proves the viability of a libertarian socialist society. MAB and RA have clearly been existent in both our own evolutionary history and in many currently existing societies. Not only that, but we can even see the effects of such behaviors in many aspects of contemporary society, as in the dominant religions[4][5].


===
I'd like to thank my opponent for the chance to debate this topic and wish him the best of luck in the voting period. However, I think that the fact that I showed a strong evolutionary presence of MAB and RA, the fact that my opponent has dropped my refutation showing that scarcity simply implies allocation, not competition, and the fact that I have shown strong anthropological evidence showing the existence of libertarian socialist type societies both in past and current make a strong case for a Pro vote.
===


===Sources===


[1] http://libcom.org...
(Egalitarian Societies. James Woodburn. Man, New Series Volume 17.)
[2] http://www.psychologytoday.com...
[3] http://www.futurepundit.com...
[4] http://www.allaboutgod.com...
[5] http://www.islamreligion.com...
Magicr

Con

I will use this round to review some of the occurrences during this debate.

Relation of MAB and RA to the resolution

My opponent has asserted that I have made a new argument coming into his last round. I would like to begin by also pointing out that this is only the second round of arguments as my opponent had laid out in the rules that R1 needn’t be for anything other than acceptance if I so chose.

Next, he said that I had been misunderstanding his arguments. I understood the arguments that he was making which were, as he put them, as follows:

In my opening on MAB I showed that natural selection as a natural phenomenon generally selects for traits and behavior which "works best in regards to survival and general security". This is clearly a correct observation. We don't see evolution selecting for traits which are specifically unhelpful versus those which are (even when we see traits which are unhelpful, they often persist in spite of not through evolution). My next line of argumentation was to show that evolution has chosen traits like MAB and RA to be beneficial to human survival and society.”

He says that he has shown that MAB and RA are beneficial to human survival and society, however, as I stated in the previous round, he has not proved that either is part of human nature, just that they are evolutionarily advantageous.

He also claims that he linked scientific studies to show how these behaviors were evolutionary significant, however he only uses these studies to prove two claims. The first of these is: “The evolutionary significance of RA is in a the idea that evolution can tend to select for those who choose RA as in close-knit communities.” There are many traits that evolution can tend to select that are not part of human nature, therefore, this use of the scientific study has not proved that RA is part of human nature.

The second point he proves with his scientific data is “that altruists tend to cooperate more frequently with others who will likely reciprocate.” This does not prove that RA is part of human nature either. So although he has used two scientific studies for sources (and you can give him the source vote for that), they do not serve a large purpose in advancing his argument.

Another contention by my opponent is that I have dropped an argument. This is not the case. My opponent argued that scarcity implied allocation rather than competition and that unless I could prove that competition was part of human nature, then allocation would be better.

“All that the existence of scarce resources proves is that there is a need to rationally allocate things like food and water. It doesn't mean that it must be allocated in a competitive way which is just one manner out of many and my opponent has not shown why competition is more conductive to human nature.”

Because I feel I had sufficiently proved competition is more conductive to human nature all ready (we’ll get to that in a moment), I assumed that the blanks could simply be filled in on their own and I did not need to repeat myself.

Next, my opponent says I defined competition as a competition as an actual rivalry between two organisms. This is an utter fallacy, as I provided several possible definitions of the word competition. All of these definitions, when exhibited in humans, conflict with libertarian socialism. The first definition is

1.the act of competing; rivalry for supremacy, a prize, etc.

This definition does not in any way say that there must be a physical competition between two organisms. It simply says that it is any form of rivalry or competition. By my opponents own admission, all natural selection relies on is surviving long enough to reproduce. As I have shown through my hominid example from the previous round, competition plays a large role in natural selection because part of surviving involves taking advantage of natural advantages, thus competing for limited resources using these advantageous traits.

Finally, my opponent argues that I had not provided evidence that competition exits in a majority of societies. This is true that I did not provide evidence in the traditional sense, I provided my evidence in the form of a question which he failed to answer. We all know that conflicts have existed throughout human history [1] [2]. I asked him to name a conflict not caused by competition. Because he did not answer this question, I assume that he could not think of an answer. If conflict has been a part of human behavior, and conflict is caused by competition, then competition must be a general part of human behavior. Instead of answering the question, he provides examples of societies that are libertarian socialism. I never denied that this type of society could exist, I am just arguing that it is contrary to a large part of human nature. If I wanted to stretch his contention of a dropped argument for my “drop” of scarcity implies allocation, I could say that he has dropped my question.

I would like to also thank my opponent for this debate. He has reminded you voters of several reasons why you should vote for him, and I will remind you of several reasons why you should vote Con:

  1. I have shown that he never actually proved that MAB and RA are a large part of human nature
  2. I have proved that competition is a fundamental part of evolution and human nature.

Thanks for evaluating this debate and vote Con!

Sources:

[1]-http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2]-http://en.wikipedia.org...

Debate Round No. 4
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by lovedebate11 4 years ago
lovedebate11
gr8 job..
Posted by CiRrK 4 years ago
CiRrK
Imma read and judge on this one tonight
Posted by Magicr 4 years ago
Magicr
How so?
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
Oh, the strawmann!
Posted by Magicr 4 years ago
Magicr
Thanks for the clarification. Good to know they can be used interchangeably in this context.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
Libertarian is basically synonymous with anarchism in this context. It's called libertarian socialism though as opposed to anarchist socialism because the term libertarian basically means anarchist in Europe where libertarian socialism originated.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
I don't have arguments for that. I'm arguing AGAINST a disconnect.
Posted by frozen_eclipse 4 years ago
frozen_eclipse
Well i guess i have to see your argument first.....i need to know what you think this disconnect is.....
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
Unsupported assertion hombre. See Spain in the 30's. Besides, that's not what the debate is about. It's about whether there is a disconnect between libertarian socialism and human nature.
Posted by frozen_eclipse 4 years ago
frozen_eclipse
my point it is possible but highly unlikely
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by CiRrK 4 years ago
CiRrK
socialpinkoMagicrTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Spinko easily kicks Con's case by demonstrating that first scarcity only shows that there is a need for an economic system, but not a specific economic system and second that large scale competition might be the result of convention and not nature. Thus, Pro wins on his explanation that human nature and evolution are interconnected and since evolution produces altruism and reciprocity then these are workable within human societies.
Vote Placed by ScottyDouglas 4 years ago
ScottyDouglas
socialpinkoMagicrTied
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: I was knid of in no man's land on this one. LOL. Though from what I read and seen here I thought that Pro had the better argument. Con also was very good in his as well. I thought both had good sources and conduct. I thought that both had good spelling. The reason I gave grammer to Pro was because of his better argument. By this I think he desrves a slight edge. Hence the 1 point. If my vote is unsettling then I will remove it.